July 26, 2019

Is it 'MassGen' or 'MGH'? Why Massachusetts General is getting serious about its nickname.

Daily Briefing

    Massachusetts General Hospital is working on a rebranding effort to give the hospital an official nickname to create a coherent brand, Jessica Bartlett reports for the Boston Business Journal.

    Access the digital strategy cheat sheets—for rebranding and beyond

    Why Massachusetts General is rebranding

    Massachusetts General is known by several nicknames, including MassGen, MassGeneral, and MGH, Bartlett writes.

    According to Misty Hathaway, the hospital's chief marketing officer, all the nicknames have led to a brand that isn't coherent. So, executives have launched an effort to standardize the hospital's nickname.

    According to Hathaway, the hospital's official name will not change.

    "It's more about simplification and codifying one of our nicknames," Hathaway said. "People call us by so many different names and use it internally. So it's a bit more discipline on codifying one of our shortcut names."

    Hathaway added that another complicating factor for the hospital's brand is its association with Harvard University. "When our physicians are published or quoted they will quote them as Harvard professors and won't mention MGH … that further blurs the line of the definition of who we are," she said.

    But it's not just Massachusetts General that is looking to simplify its rebrand: Massachusetts General's parent organization, Partners HealthCare, also is looking to create a more cohesive brand for its two flagship institutions, MassGeneral and Brigham and Women's Hospital, and it's 20 member organizations, sources to Bartlett.

    Hathaway said that many people in the New England area are unaware of which facilities are part of the organization—and Partners wants that to change.

    "Most people in the Boston area couldn't tell you which clinics are part of Partners. Maybe only 1% of our employees could tell you which are part of Partners HealthCare," Hathaway said. "There has to be a better way."

    Why other hospitals have changed their names

    The rebranding effort at Partners and MassGeneral isn't new to the health care industry. According to Bartlett, a number of major hospitals have done the same in past years.

    For example, in 2015, Mount Sinai Roosevelt changed its name to Mount Sinai West in an effort to have "consistent geographic-based naming across the health system," according to Evan Flatow, the hospital's president.

    Similarly, in 2016, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health changed its name to Northwell Health. According to CEO Michael Dowling, the name change came because "[t]he old name localized us as being too Long Island-focused, when the bulk of our organization has expanded beyond Long Island."

    In 2017, NYU Langone Medical Center changed its name to NYU Langone Health. According to Debbie Cohn, assistant VP of marketing at NYU Langone, the choice to add the word "health" to the hospital's name "was to create this aspirational branding. … Our end goal is the health of our patients and prospective patients in the communities we serve" (Bartlett, Boston Business Journal, 7/24).

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